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NEWS / FG To Add N1.4trn To Economy Through Scpzs
« on: January 17, 2014, 10:52:05 AM »
FG to add N1.4trn to economy through SCPZs

The Federal Government has embarked on the development of Stable Crop Processing Zones (SCPZs) to add about N1.4 trillion to the Nigerian?s economy and create up to 250,000 jobs.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, made this known yesterday in Abuja at the launch of the SCPZs, which he said would reduce the cost of doing business for agro-processors and ensure their competitiveness while creating a ready market for farmers through reduction of post-harvest losses.

According to him, the main objective of the SCPZs is to facilitate agro-processing environments that will be used to attract private sector investments into the local production and processing of Nigeria agricultural produce, with the primary goal of substituting import and adding value to local agricultural produce to serve the vast and growing local market.

?Successful implementation of the SCPZs is estimated to potentially add between N660 billion and N1.4 trillion to the Nigerian economy and create up to 250,000 jobs. The SCPZs will be equipped with desirable infrastructure and service, while the surrounding food production clusters will also be developed with the required operational infrastructure to ensure optimal productivity,? he stated.

Adesina noted that working in partnership with states and local governments and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), development master plans for the SCPZs have been prepared and will be presented to stakeholders in six priority states with potential SCPZ sites such as Kogi, Lagos, Kano, Anambra/Enugu and Niger over the next several months. he added that 14 SCPZs will be set up across Nigeria, for rice, sorghum and other grains, cassava, fisheries, horticulture and livestock.

The minister said SCPZs will ease the cost of doing business by the private sector to move into rural areas, create employment for thousands of Nigerian youths and reverse rural-urban migration by attracting them to the centres of excellence where they can dream once again of a better Nigeria, full of hope, jobs and wealth creation opportunity. ?The development of the SCPZs will not displace smallholder farmers and their communities. To the contrary they are being developed to include smallholder farmers and with active participation of communities,? Adesina said.

Also speaking at the event, Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada, stated that his government was ready to provide necessary support towards the SCPZs.

?Everyone in Kogi State will contribute to this initiative through our smallholder farmers. SCPZ is the vehicle for our economy to generate revenue, which will enhance our profile in agriculture as a way of reducing poverty in the country.

?Kogi State is the leading state in cassava production and the Federal Government has chosen it as a home for take off point for agricultural stable crop,? he said.

POLITICS / Stop Blackmail, Ogun APC Tells N?Assembly Lawmakers
« on: January 17, 2014, 10:48:56 AM »
Stop blackmail, Ogun APC tells N?Assembly lawmakers

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State has described as cheap blackmail the criticism of the purported endorsement of Governor Ibikunle Amosun for a second term.

It also said the position of the state?s National Assembly caucus that an alleged endorsement of Amosun at a forum in Abeokuta was illegal and self-serving was mischievous and dubious.

The party, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Sola Lawal, pointed out that the lawmakers acted out of ignorance, saying no endorsement took place in the first place.

According to the APC, the Abeokuta gathering was a mere stakeholders? event meant to appraise party members of developments within the party, particularly the forthcoming registration exercise.
 It further disclosed that among other invitees, National Assembly members were duly invited to the event, even though some of them did not turn up.

?It is noteworthy to state that no fewer than five prominent leaders of the party, including the governor, made it clear at the event that the gathering was not for endorsing anyone. In particular, Senator Biyi Durojaiye is on record as emphasizing that the gathering will not endorse anybody.

?It is patently mischievous and dubious for anyone, let alone otherwise respected federal lawmakers, to latch on to untruth in a desperate bid to seek attention through blackmail of the party that sponsored them,? the party stated.

The APC said the progressive political family in Ogun State was unshaken in its commitment to the rule of law, fair-play and justice and therefore would always desist from all undemocratic persuasions.
 All elective positions, it pointed out, would be contested by every interested party members in an open primaries in line with the provisions of the party constitution.

?If only these emergency critics had been a--- of developments in their constituencies, they would have discovered that primitive imposition of candidates, including so-called automatic ticket forAmosun, has not been encouraged by anyone, including the governor himself,? it stressed.

NEWS / The Sun Award ?Ll Strengthen Me ?Kwankwaso
« on: January 17, 2014, 10:47:56 AM »
The Sun award ?ll strengthen me ?Kwankwaso

Kano State Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has expressed delight at his nomination as The Sun Man of the Year Award for 2013.

He said: ?Let me start by welcoming you to Kano State and to take the opportunity to thank you and through you, all those who found me worthy of this very prestigious award of the ?Man of the year of The Sun Newspapers.

Gov. Kwankwaso spoke when he received a letter formally informing him of his nomination from the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Ltd, Mr. Femi Adesina, who led a delegation to the Governor?s office in Kano recently.

?And I want to assure you that this award would further strengthen me and of course, all my colleagues in the state Executive Council to work harder for the rest of our time in government which ends in 2015.
 ?Let me particularly thank you, the managing director for creating time to come yourself to bring this letter to me and also delighted that you have created time to go round to see the city of Kano,? Gov. Kwankwanso noted.

In a brief remark while making the presentation at Government House, Mr. Adesina said the decision to nominate the governor for the annual award was the outcome of a careful analysis of his performance, adding that he was selected by the newspapers? Board of Editors after a robust debate on the administration?s achievements.

According to Mr. Adesina, the administration of Kwankwaso had done creditably well in the discharge of its responsibilities to the people of Kano State, adding that the administration has since transformed the state capital into a mini-Dubai.

He also acknowledged the description of the administration by Transparency Review, an affiliate of Transparency International, as the most fiscally responsible government in the country in 2012 /2013.
 The managing director appreciated that issues of transparency and accountability have since become an intractable challenge in Nigeria, noting that the recognition by an affiliate of the Transparency  International has set him apart from his peers.

Adesina said that the award ceremony will take place at Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos on February 25, 2014. He was accompanied on the trip by Mr. Shola Osunkeye, the Managing Director, The Sun Publishing Ltd, Ghana.

NEWS / 400 Yrs Land Dispute Settled In Anambra
« on: January 17, 2014, 10:43:54 AM »
400 yrs land dispute settled in Anambra


The 400-year-old land dispute between the people of Obuezekeli and Oka Agbiligba Quarters in Nanka community, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, has been settled in court.
 The Appeal Court ruled in favour of Oka Agbiligba Quarters, Nanka thereby settling the rift which pitched brothers against each other for more than four centuries ago.

In a show of magnanimity and brotherly love, the people of Oka Agbiligba, who won the landmark case, have given out 170 plots of land from the former disputed land to Obuezekeli quarters including their present place of habitation.

The chairman of Oka Agbiligba Development Union, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo, disclosed this in a ceremony to mark the commissioning of a gigantic civic centre/library and information technology unit  built by the union which  held recently in the community.

Chief Ezenwankwo, who is also the president-general, South East Market Traders Association (SEMATA), said that the building of the civic centre and internet facilities was to afford the children of the area opportunities to engage in useful ventures and keep their minds away from crime and other social vices.
 He stated that adequate utilisation of the facilities would stem the rural/urban migration of the youths in search of such privileges and assured that the centre would be adequately protected by providing efficient and well-trained security personnel to man the area.

In another show of magnanimity and its stance to encourage development in the community, Chief Ezenwankwo announced the donation of nine and half (9 ? ) plots of land from the former disputed Nkpuoka land to entire Nanka community for the building of a befitting palace and civic center for the traditional ruler.
 An indigene of the community, Chief Iloegbune Okoye, in an interview, said that the provision of the centre, which he described as ultra-modem, will afford the youths the opportunity of sourcing relevant information that would enhance their educational pursuits.

He advised businessmen in the area to  avail themselves of the opportunity of the internet facilities.

NEWS / Ebonyi To Expend 500m US Dollars On Varsity Devt
« on: January 17, 2014, 10:39:45 AM »
Ebonyi to expend 500m US Dollars on varsity devt


Ebonyi State Government has said that a total of 500 million US dollars would be spent on the development of the State University (EBSU), Abakaliki.

The state governor, Chief Martin Elechi gave the figure during the flag-off ceremony of the distribution of 2013 instructional materials, assessment report booklets and commissioning of State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) warehouse at the SUBEB headquarters in the state capital.

Represented by the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Ndubuisi Chibueze-Agbo, the governor stated that since the decision of government to run a single campus system as against the earlier proposed four-campus structure for the state university, the government had commenced massive infrastructural development of the permanent site at Ishieke, in collaboration with an American firm.

The governor announced that the administrative block and the office of the vice-chancellor would be commissioned by the first quarter of this year while work on two hostel blocks and another faculty block have been in progress.

He stated that the state government at inception of his administration in 2007, assured Ebonyians of qualitative education of the children and stressed that a lot had been done in the realisation of that objective.
 The state, he said, constructed 31 boarding schools and established three new technical colleges in the state.
 The governor also promised that the issue of accessing of funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Abuja, would be addressed soon by the payment of the state?s counterpart funds, saying that the state would not leave any fund un-accessed from UBEC.

The Acting Chairman of SUBEB, Mrs. Perpetua Elom, stated that through the state government?s funding, in collaboration with UBEC and Education Trust Fund (ETF), Ebonyi SUBEB was able to construct 345 classroom blocks, renovated 69 classroom blocks, procured 29,302 sets of school furniture, provided 140,902 text books, procured library, computers and intro-tech equipment and training of 40,209 teachers, in addition to employment of 2000 tutorial and 200 non-tutorial staff.

NEWS / Court Rejects Govt?s Report On Okah?s Health
« on: January 16, 2014, 01:21:30 PM »
Court rejects govt?s report on Okah?s health

A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday rejected the report of the medical examination conducted on suspected terrorist, Charles Okah, by the Federal Government.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole ordered that a fresh medical assessment revealing Okah?s mental state be conducted within 15 days.

The judge?s decision was upon observation by defence lawyer John Ainetor about some inconsistencies in the report.

Okah is being tried with Obi Nwabueze for the 2010 Independence Day bombing in Abuja, which killed 12 people and injured others.

Four people, believed to be members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), led by Henry Okah, were arraigned in December 2011.

One of them, Tiemkemfa Francis Osvwo, a.ka General Gbokos, died later.

Another, Edmund Ebiware, who had his trial conducted separately, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

At the last hearing on December 4, Justice Kolawole, upon complaint by Ainetor that Okah was not mentally fit for trial, ordered a psychiatric evaluation on him.

Yesterday, the judge gave a copy of the medical report from the National Hospital, Abuja, dated January 9, to lawyers.

The report was signed by a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr. O. T. Ephraim Oluwanuga.

Lead prosecution lawyer Alex Iziyon (SAN) argued that the report showed that Okah was fit for trial.

He sought the court?s permission to continue with the trial.

Ainetor noted that the report contained some contradictory information. He observed that while the concluding part stated that Okah could stand trial, part of the findings contained in the body stated otherwise.

He noted that on pages two, the doctor observed that he (Okah) suffers from ?psychotic depression, fatigues disorder and auditory/visual hallucinations.?

Ainetor argued that in view of the contradiction in the report, there was need for further evaluation.

He pleaded with the judge to order a fresh examination.

?Based on the contradictory nature of the report, it cannot be relied on,? Ainetor said.

Okah, who was brought to court in a wheel chair, was positioned at the left side of the courtroom, close to the front row.

He intermittently waved into the air, shouting ?go away,? to what seemed visible only to him.

At a point, he bent to a side of the wheel chair, unzipped his trousers and urinated inside the court. His lawyer apologised to the judge.

Justice Kolawole upheld Ainetor?s argument for a fresh examination.

The judge observed that the report contained some medical terms, which he (the judge) could not comprehend.

He directed that the new examination be conducted at the National Hospital, Abuja, by two or three psychiatrists, who must sign the report.

Justice Kolawole also directed that the report, to be submitted to the court 72 hours before the next date, should be written in a language that can easily be understood.

He held that an accused person must be medically fit for trial, and observed that the indictment against the accused was weighty and attracts severe punishment.

The judge said although the court?s rules requires that criminal cases be heard promptly, he would make haste slowly to avoid wasting judicial time and resources in conducting a trial that could be rendered a nullity by the appellate court on health grounds.

The judge adjourned till February 5.

NEWS / Sultan Accuses North?s Governors Of Ignoring Advice On Security
« on: January 16, 2014, 01:20:26 PM »
Sultan accuses North?s governors of ignoring advice on security

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa?ad Abubakar yesterday accused political leaders in the north of slowing down the quest for a peaceful and developed region. He said the Northern governors have failed to implement recommendation by traditional rulers on the way forward.

Addressing a joint meeting of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council and Northern Elders Forum (NEF) in Kaduna, the Sultan said the northern governors were yet to act or respond to the position paper presented to them last year by the Council.

Sultan Abubakar who said the traditional institution had been in existence long before the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 noted that the traditional institution has a strong leadership and vision to see their communities live in peace, remain more developed and more prosperous, therefore, they were in a better position to advise the political leaders.

According to him, ?in our quest to develop the north because we are northern leaders, first we always try to reach out to our political leaders. I want to put it on record here that, even last year, we presented a position paper to the northern governors forum on the way forward to reduce the suffering of our people by lack of education, by insecurity and all sort of things.

?The paper has been given to them and I want to draw the attention of the northern governors forum that we are yet to hear anything on that paper we gave them. They should reach out to us to brief us so that we can continue to contribute on how really to sustain the peace and develop the north.

?We are here to continue our deliberations in our quest to have a peaceful, stable and developed north, as most of you know, in the days of Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory, things were much better than they are now.

?In our quest to have a stable and developed north, we keep up looking to all and sundry, most importantly, look up to our political leaders because they have the leading mandate to administer the north.

?Now, before the present democratic dispensation, traditional institutions have been there. Long before Nigeria was amalgamated, traditional leaders have been ruling and leading people. Today, we have our governors and other political office holders and elders here.

?I want to assure all and sundry that the northern traditional institutions do not have a political party but we are the administrators of our people. Not having a political party does not mean we will not tell our political leaders the truth when they go off the road. We will tell them where they are going wrong when we see it and tell them what to do to bring development to our people. When we give such advice, we will be very happy because we have done our responsibilities.

?If we give them the advice, it is left to them to either accept our advice or not. While we are giving advice, we can always contribute rightly to the development and peaceful coexistence of people in our various places. I want to assure you once again that we don?t have political party. Our political party is the welfare of our people wherever they are and that is our concern and nothing more.

?I read some of the Shehu Danfodio?s literature where he said since the welfare of your people is more important than the use of force, You cannot use force to develop or move people forward. If you take care of their welfare, you will find out that they are always ready to do their best to move the society forward.

?I believe this meeting is very important coming at the time when we have so much challenges in form of insecurity in the north in particular. We all see what happened yesterday in Borno and Bama. When you go to Bama, you will virtually see that there is nobody in the street.

?I think it is important for us to always look ahead to plan into the future. After our meeting and hearing from our northern elders, we will issue a communique that will still be sent to the governors forum because they are our political leaders.

?We are administrators and we will continue doing our best, Insha Allah in our quest for the political leaders to achieve designed goals of our people which is good leadership as they always ask where are the Sardaunas of today. We should also know that we are going to account to Allah our actions as leaders on the D-day. Our political leaders must fear Allah in their dealings with the people?.

Chairman of the Northern state Governors Forum and governor of Niger State, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, said Nigeria was passing through one of the most difficult times in its history as a nation.

Represented by his deputy, Ahmed Musa Ibeto, Aliyu said political and electoral tension, social and economic insecurity, communal conflicts and civil unrest had reached unprecedented levels in the country, requiring the collective dedication of all Nigerians to address.

Kaduna State Governor Muktar Yero, said: ?It is obvious that the present arrangement which places huge expectations on traditional rulers, without any Constitutional or legal provision, has to be changed. The responsibilities, powers and obligations of traditional institutions must be clearly defined by law and some of us are willing to support such move, anytime the issue is up for debate.

?Consequently, I believe it is time to consider an official role for our traditional institutions. Invariably, I am of the notion that the ongoing Constitution Amendment process and the proposed National Conference, has availed us viable platforms for exhaustive debate on ways to legally engage traditional leaders in the process of building a peaceful and prosperous nation?.

NEWS / Appeal Court Reserves Judgment In Ladoja?s Suit
« on: January 16, 2014, 01:17:37 PM »
Appeal Court reserves judgment in Ladoja?s suit

The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, reserved judgment yesterday in the appeal filed by former Oyo State Governor Rashidi Ladoja against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ladoja, who is on trial for alleged financial misappropriation, is seeking an order declaring that the EFCC does not have a prima facie case against him.

In the Notice of Appeal filed in March, 2010, by his counsel, Oladapo Olanipekun, Ladoja urged the court to quash the charges levelled against him by the EFCC.

In November, 2008, the EFCC arraigned Ladoja and his former aide, Waheed Akanbi, before a Federal High Court, Lagos, presided over by Justice Ramat Mohammed, for an amended 10-count charge bordering on laundering N4.7 billion.

The commission alleged that Ladoja bought an Armoured Land Cruiser Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) worth N42 million and remitted about ?600 thousand to Bimpe Ladoja in London.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bail.

Ladoja said the proof of evidence placed before the lower court by the EFCC had no nexus with the charges against him, adding that the commission did not have a prima facie case against him.

He urged the court to declare that the EFCC had no power, jurisdiction or authority to prefer any criminal charge against him.

EFCC?s counsel Festus Keyamo argued that the objection raised by the defence was belated, as the accused had been arraigned and his plea taken.

Keyamo said the objection ought to have been raised immediately after the accused?s arraignment or before taking his plea, not when the trial had commenced.

Justice Mohammed agreed with Keyamo and held that objection to a defect in a charge can only be made on the day of arraignment when the applicant is taking his plea and not afterwards.

She ruled that the proof of evidence placed before the court by the EFCC had links with the charges and that the commission had a prima facie case against Ladoja.

Justice Mohammed dismissed all motions filed by the accused and ordered their trial.

Ladoja appealed the ruling, praying the appellate court to quash the charges.

NEWS / Govt To Build 25 Km Makeshift Road On Lagos-Ibadan Highway
« on: January 16, 2014, 01:15:07 PM »
Govt to build 25 km makeshift road on Lagos-Ibadan highway

The Federal Government is to complete the building of the makeshift 25-km road on the Lagos-Ibadan highway this month, an official of the Federal Ministry of Works said yesterday.

Mr Godwin Eke, who is a Deputy Director in the ministry made the announcement in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He said the building of the makeshift road was to divert vehicles, noting that work would continue on the road?s main carriageway.

The deputy director said that the old road would be completely removed to give way for the new project, adding that milling of the road would be done sectionally.

?The entire road would be milled but it would be section by section.

?First, the contractor, Julius Berger has to plan diversion while working on the carriageway, what we are doing now is temporary diversion so that the main work would start.??

He explained that five kilometres of the makeshift road had been built on the Ibadan-bound section and was currently being extended by another five kilometres.

Eke explained that five kilometres was also being built on the Lagos-bound carriageway, starting from the Shagamu Interchange.

The deputy director said that 25 kilometres would be built by the end of this month.

He said, however, that all the constructions were temporary and that permanent construction would soon begin on the Lagos-bound section starting from Shagamu.

Eke, who is the officer in charge of Section One reconstruction of the highway, said that diversion signs would be placed 100 metres from the constructed portions to guide those coming to Lagos from Abeokuta and other areas.

He said that building of the permanent road would begin from the Shagamu Interchange because of high traffic on the Lagos side, adding that, a traffic management plan was being concluded and ?would be ready this week?.

NEWS / Public Hearing Coming Soon On Obasanjo?s Snipers Allegation
« on: January 16, 2014, 01:13:33 PM »
Public hearing coming soon on Obasanjo?s snipers allegation

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will hold a public hearing on ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo?s letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, it was learnt yesterday.

The President referred the letter written to him by Obasanjo last December to the NHRC, asking that aspects of the letter that concern human rights abuses be investigated.

The ex-president alleged that snipers were being trained on behalf of the administration ahead of the 2015 general elections.

He also alleged that about 1000 Nigerians had been put on a political watch list.

Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi also complained about the conduct of Police Commissioner Mbu Joseph Mbu, whom he accused of breaching human rights with the manner he operates in the oil producing state.

Yesterday, the commission constituted two panels to investigate the allegations.

The commission constituted the panels at an extraordinary emergency meeting of its Governing Council held in Abuja.

A five-man panel, headed by the council?s Chairman, Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, is to examine the letter. Other members are the NHRC?s Secretary, Prof Bem Angwe and three council members ? Mrs. Eugenia Abu, D.O.C Ezeigwe and Alhaji Ibrahim Nikau.

The three-man panel headed by Mr. Kayode Komolafe will investigate the Rivers crisis protest letter by Governor Rotimi Amaechi. Other members are Mrs. Rita Ifeyinwa Njokanmma and Mr. Eric Bell-Gam.

The commission said it had authorised its secretary Angwe to immediately issue an invitation or call for memoranda on the terms of reference of the panel on the Obasanjo letter.

The council decided that the panel?s inquiry shall be in public and that a calendar and schedule for the public sittings of the inquiry shall be announced when the commission determines.

The Odinkalu led panel is to determine:

?whether or not there is or have been state-sponsored killings or assassinations in Nigeria at any time since November 1995 to date;

?if so, what organisations, institutions, agencies or persons were or are involved in or affected by such killings;

?whether there is or has been at any time since November 1995, a list of persons to be targeted for watching or for such killings;

?if, in any of such cases, the perpetrators, known or unknown, were brought to justice or assisted, facilitated or helped by any persons or institutions to evade justice;

?whether the victims of any such killings were or have been afforded access to truth or to effective remedies; and

?undertake any other or further tasks related to or necessarily incidental to the foregoing.

The NHRC said it considered the deepening crisis in Rivers State and concluded that the situation called for urgent action to verify the facts and stem any further deterioration.

The panel on the Rivers crisis is to undertake a verification mission to the state. It is to:

?identify and verify the facts and actors involved in the ongoing crisis in Rivers State and any violations of human rights connected therewith;

?identify and interact with all parties or actors connected with or affected by the crisis;

?recommend any interim measures to ameliorate or prevent further escalation of the situation into serious or massive violations of human rights; and

?undertake any other or further tasks related to or necessarily incidental to the foregoing.

The NHRC?s council authorised ?the verification mission to work on an expedited time scale and report back to the next regular meeting of Council before the end of February 2014?.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on December 23, last year, following a directive by President Jonathan, referred the Obasanjo letter to the NHRC to investigate allegations contained in the letter.

?In taking cognisance of the HAGF?s (Honourable Attorney General of the Federation) referral, Council made it clear that Rule 79(2)(e) of the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure the Commission provide for the HAGF or Attorneys-General of States to refer appropriate cases to the Commission.

?Council is at all times guided also by the provision of Section 6(3) of the National Human Rights Commission Act (as amended) that ?In exercising its functions and powers under this Act, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person.?

? Council considered the allegations contained in the transmission from the HAGF to be quite weighty and grave and concluded that they raise issues of serious and systematic violations of the rights to life, access to fair hearing and justice, personal liberty, safety and security, equality before the law and the prohibition against discrimination.

?Following comprehensive deliberations, Council decided, in exercise of its powers under Sections 5 and 6 of the National Human Rights Commission Act (as amended) and in accordance with Rule 79(2)(a), (c) and (e) of the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure of the Commission to constitute a panel to inquire into the case,? the statement said.

POLITICS / Governor Didn?t Discuss Tukur, Says Suswam
« on: January 16, 2014, 09:45:39 AM »
Governor didn?t discuss Tukur, says Suswam

Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam said yesterday that Tukur?s resignation was not discussed with the President.

According to him, issues concerning the states and how to resolve the party?s crises and bring back governors who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) were discussed with the president.

He said: ?We met with the President as PDP governors to discuss issues of the party and the way forward. That meeting is continuing. The second meeting was the national caucus and, of course I am not in a position to comment on that. I believe the Vice President will brief the press as soon as the meeting is over on the outcome of the national caucus and the BoT.?

?But this one that we are just coming out from is the PDP governors? meeting with the President. Issues discussed are basically how we can re-strategise, and move forward as a party.?

On Tukur?s rumoured resignation, Suswam said: ?It is the Vice President that can speak on that. This is because issues like that were not raised in our meeting with the President. I think it is the responsibility of the national caucus and the BoT.

?From time to time we (governors) meet the President and this is not unusual as we always meet with the President.

?The concern is that the fortunes of our party is dwindling and we need to address that. How do we re-energise? How do we reposition our party to win the forthcoming elections in Ekiti and Osun? How do we bring back our colleagues that have stepped aside. We do not believe that they have left us. How do we bring them back? These are the issues that are of concern to us.?

Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu expressed optimism that some of his aggrieved colleagues who defected to the APC would return to the PDP.

NEWS / Confusion Over Tukur
« on: January 16, 2014, 09:44:23 AM »
Confusion over Tukur

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Bamanga Tukur was clinging to his job last night amid a wide speculation that he threw in the towel.

Tukur, 78, was said to have resigned after his final bastion of support ? the state chairmen of the party ? passed a vote of no confidence in him.

Members of the National Working Committee (NWC) shunned the NWC meeting he called at the national secretariat on Monday.

Besides, Tukur does not enjoy the support of the governors elected on the platform of the party.

He reportedly submitted his letter of resignation at the Presidential Villa at about 5.30pm, but The Nation could not confirm that he actually resigned.

The party chair was believed to have resigned to stave off his sack at today?s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.

Tukur insisted yesterday that he had not resigned.

He spoke at the Presidential Villa in Abuja when he arrived for the Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting. The meeting was held after the PDP Caucus meeting.

He said: ?If I resign, you will know. I am not somebody that will resign and you will not know. I have not resigned.?

He then headed for the conference room in the Banquet Hall where the national caucus of the party held its meeting, presided over by President Jonathan.

Tukur was also said to have resigned following the failure of the various intervention teams to prevail on major stakeholders in the party to keep him on board.

The intervention team, led by Gen. Anthony Hananiya, was said to have met the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio and the factional chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Plateau State Governor Jona Jang.

It was gathered that while Gen. Hananiya and other peace groups were busy lobbying the governors, the chairmen of the 37 PDP state chapters met at a hotel in Abuja where they passed a vote of no confidence in Tukur.

There has been pressure on Tukur to resign in the past few weeks.

The NWC members openly accused Tukur of being responsible for the hydra-headed problems bedevilling the party.

The frosty relations between the party chairman and the NWC members came to a climax on Monday when eight of the 12-member committee shunned an emergency meeting he called.

Sources at the party secretariat told our correspondent that Tukur?s aides were seen yesterday removing their personal effects from their offices.

Tukur?s Special Assistant on Media, Prince Oliver Okpala, denied the resignation report. In a terse statement yesterday, Okpala said:

?Be informed that the National Chairman has not resigned, it is all speculation.

?The National Chairman will be at the Board of Trustee (BoT) meeting tonight (yesterday) and will also attend the NEC of the party tomorrow (today)?.

Tukur stayed away from the party?s NWC meeting yesterday, a development which some sources attributed to his probable exit from the party.

Yesterday?s meeting was presided over by the Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.

According to sources, the consensus on Tukur?s exit was reached on Tuesday night at a meeting of the National Caucus.

It was gathered that when Tukur became incoherent at the session, the President took coordinated contributions.

All stakeholders at the session, including governors, National Assembly members, BoT members and some NEC members, agreed that Tukur should go.

Most state chairmen of the PDP have also passed a vote of no confidence in Tukur, a dilemma which left Jonathan bewildered that there was a ?bad case? at hand.

A source, who spoke with our correspondent, said: ?At the National Caucus meeting, it was decided that Tukur should resign. He assured all members that he would meet with the Deputy National Chairman, Uche Secondus, and take the letter to President Goodluck Jonathan by 3pm on Wednesday.

?At the Caucus meeting, he was rabble-rousing on issues we raised and the posers from NEC members against him. He could not defend any.?

The issues raised are:

?holding party /NWC meetings at Tukur?s residence instead of the PDP Secretariat;

?running a parallel NWC, taking decisions on critical party matters with only his aides;

?mass defection from the PDP due to lack of confidence in Tukur;

?Governors, National Assembly members, BoT, NEC unhappy with Tukur;

?no concrete achievements since Tukur took over in the last two years. He could not even complete the ongoing National Secretariat of the party;

?globe-trotting without any result to enhance the electoral fortunes of the party; and

?lack of access to Tukur, sometimes for two weeks.

The posers from NEC members read:

?what accounted for the breach of the PDP?s constitution on convening of NEC meeting?

?what informed arbitrary and illegal suspension of top PDP members, including governors, and Tukur?s high-handedness?

?the rationale for unilateral dissolution of state executive councils by Tukur and NWC.

?why did Tukur?s NWC usurp NEC?s powers on the appointment of the Disciplinary Committee for the PDP at the national level?

?Tukur?s position on the grievances of the governors and ways to prevent more defections; and

?the party?s perspective on court rulings on the office of the National Secretary.

Before the BOT meeting, Jonathan held a meeting with PDP governors. Details of the session were unknown.

NEWS / ?100 Nigerians In Morocco Prisons?
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:40:55 AM »
?100 Nigerians in Morocco prisons?

About 100 Nigerians are  in prisons in Morocco for  illegal migration and drug offences, Nigeria?s Ambassador to Morocco, Senator Abdallah Wali has said.

Wali, who told journalists in Sokoto that there are many illegal residents in Morocco, observed that  the country?s proximity  to Europe was responsible for the development.
The ambassador noted that many Nigerians often get stranded in Morocco and become illegal migrants.
He said the mission was partnering with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja towards curbing illegal migration of Nigerians to Morocco, adding that series of workshops have been held to sensitize Nigerians on the issue.
Wali described Nigeria as a robust nation and one of the emerging economies in the world and therefore urged Nigerians to remain at home to become local entrepreneurs and develop the nation.
When asked of any existing protocol between Nigeria and Morocco regarding repatriation of Nigerian prisoners or Moroccan prisoners, he said there was none but added that the embassy visits Nigerian prisoners in various prisons across the country.

NEWS / Give 21-Day Notice Before Strike, Kwara Tells Doctors
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:39:44 AM »
Give 21-day notice before strike, Kwara tells doctors

The Kwara State government has advised the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in the state to always give 21 days notice before embarking on any strike.

The government said in-as-much as it is not against the association going on strike in sympathy with their colleagues at the federal level, adequate notice should always be given.
The state Head of Service Alhaji Dabarako Mohammed gave the advice when the state executive of NMA visited him.
He said the association needs to give at least 21-days notice which would allow the government and the association to negotiate on their demands before the commencement of any strike.
Mohammed noted that what the NMA is fighting for at the federal level does not affect doctors in the state, thereby making it unnecessary for them to go on strike.
?The state government is not against going on sympathy strike but all options of achieving the reasons behind strike including giving adequate information and understanding ourselves is preferred. As you are calling the entire doctors to go on strike, where will the patients go to? There is therefore the need for harmonization of ideas,? he said.
According to him, the present administration of Alhaji AbdulFatah Ahmed, has a healthcare policy of 500 metres access to healthcare and has put in place a community health insurance scheme for the people of the state.
Earlier, the state chairman of the NMA, Prof. Mikhail Olayinka Buhari, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Kunle Olawepo, said the strike was a national one. 
He added: ?When there are issues of industrial dispute, we subsequently participate.?

NEWS / Borno Elevates 2 Emirs To First Class
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:37:27 AM »
Borno elevates 2 emirs to first class

The Borno State government yesterday announced the elevation of the Emir of Uba, Alhaji Ismaila Mamza and that of Gwoza, Alhaji Idrisa Timta to first class status.

A statement issued in Maiduguri by Mr Kwapchi Pata, a Senior Special Assistant to Governor Kashim Shettima stated that the elevation was with immediate effect.
The statement said: ?Governor Kashim Shettima has approved the elevation of the Emir of Uba in Askira-Uba Local Government Area Alhaji Ismaila Mamza and the Emir of Gwoza in Gwoza Local Governmkent Area to first class status.??
No reason was given for the elevation, but the statement reiterated that the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Garbai, remains the chairman of the state traditional council. (NAN)

NEWS / Nigeria Will Not Break Up ?Bishop Fearon
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:37:00 AM »
Nigeria will not break up ?Bishop Fearon

The Bishop of Kaduna Diocese (Anglican Communion) Most Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said at the weekend that Nigeria will not break-up as being predicted.

Addressing newsmen in Kaduna, he said 2014 is the beginning of an important milestone in Nigeria?s history.
?My main reason for this prophetic statement is based on my conviction that the one true God whom we worship keeps His covenant with His people. Nigerians worship this one true God differently, though they have some irreconcilable doctrinal understanding of this one God. This one true God made it possible for this country to be put together in 1914, He has not changed His mind on this nation being held together,? he said.
He added: ?It is on this platform that both Christians and Muslims can hope to continue to be together even after the 2015 general elections, because God is faithful and will not in spite of our madness and divisive tendencies allow what He has brought together to disintegrate.?
He urged religious leaders to stop chasing material things, competing with the rich whose sources of wealth are not clean, stop the current life-style of flamboyance and speak the truth, live by example and as a matter of urgency stop using their positions to secure the services of SSS and police personnel for their private protection.
?We do not have enough policemen and women in the country, therefore, the limited number we have is further strained by this practice,? he stated.
Commenting on the issue of insecurity, Fearon said there is a growing belief among many Nigerians that the situation in the North-East that has continued to decimate the population could be brought to an end if those keeping the peace there have the will to end the crisis.

NEWS / Shonnong Attacks Huge Blow To Plateau Peace Process ?Sen. Pwajok
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:35:54 AM »
Shonnong attacks huge blow to Plateau peace process ?Sen. Pwajok

Senator Gyang Pwajok yesterday said the recent attacks on Shonnong communities in Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State dealt a ?huge blow?? to the peace process.

?The attacks were very shocking to us because we thought we had seen the end of them after all sides agreed to end the hostilities. There is no doubt that the development has dealt a huge blow to the peace process. It is very frustrating and I must tell you that we are at a loss over where to start the search for permanent peace,?? Pwajok told newsmen in Jos.
He added: ?The new development means that we must begin a fresh round of confidence building measures among the warring communities.??
Monday attacks, which the Special Task Force spokesman, Captain Salisu Mustapha, said claimed 16 lives and left many injured, came after Plateau-North enjoyed eight months of uninterrupted stability following peace initiatives by Pwajok.
The initiatives had resulted in a ceasefire resolve by the Fulani and Berom leaders, after many years of conflicts that claimed many lives. Pwajok, while reacting to the recent attacks, observed that they were particularly different because they were carried out in broad day light, unlike the usual practice where the attacks took place at night.
?This time too, houses were burnt and the attackers operated uninterrupted for five hours, unlike past attacks when the gunmen wiped out families and promptly fled the scenes,?? he said.
The senator said the development revealed that the peace efforts must be constantly sustained while stakeholders must remain fully focused.
?What I have learnt is that peace efforts are not a one-off event. The efforts are not a daily, weekly or monthly affair. They must be steadily sustained. I have also learnt that just when you think you have secured peace, conflict merchants could strike, using one strategy or the other,?? he said. (NAN)

NEWS / Senator Ndume?s Convoy Hit By Military Bomb In Gwoza
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:34:46 AM »
Senator Ndume?s convoy hit by military bomb in Gwoza

Senator Ali Ndume who represents Borno South Senatorial district on Saturday escaped death by the whiskers when a military aircraft threw four bombs at his convoy.

Ndume said the incident happened at Pulka village while on his way to Gwoza local government area to commiserate with the people of his constituency over the killing of some locals.
He said there were eight soldiers, five policemen and some members of the youth vigilante groups in his convoy when the bombs were thrown.
 Ndume said the Hilux vehicle conveying the military operatives was in the front, then his vehicle; before the one conveying the police directly behind his; then another vehicle conveying the civilian JTF and the last one conveying the Dan Madami  of Gwoza.
He said it was by ?sheer providence? that all the people in the convoy escaped unhurt but faulted how security agencies were carrying out the state of emergency imposed on Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in the last eight months.
Addressing a press conference at his Maiduguri residence yesterday, visibly shaken Ndume wondered what explanation Nigerian security forces would give the world if he did not survive the attack to give his own version of the story.
He said: ?When I arrived Maiduguri, I notified the Nigerian Army to give me a detachment for security purpose which they did. I equally notified the police and they gave me a detachment in order to move to those volatile areas.
?Unfortunately, at exactly 2.10pm, I was in Pulka waiting for the remaining stakeholders so that we can move together. As we moved towards Gwoza, I heard explosions at the back but initially, I thought it was Boko Haram that planted bombs because I passed a culvert. We even suspected some people that were waiving us from the roadside; we thought they were the ones that detonated the bombs.?
Senator Ndume said it was his army escorts that informed him it was the Air Force that threw the bombs at them.
The convoy took shelter at the military base in Pulka where officers there tried to establish communication with the  jet but was not immediately possible.
He said for 15 minutes again, the Air Force jet was patrolling the area.
?We are lucky to be alive,? he said, adding ?I truly want to believe that it was an operational problem; I think the military did not handle it well. You don?t just see a convoy on a federal highway and you just bombed them like that.?
He said he had talked to the Chief of Army Staff and ?sent a text to the Chief of Air Staff, I have talked to the Air Force Commander here (in Maiduguri) and I also talked with the governor.?
According to him, the Air Force plane did not originate from Maiduguri but Yola.
He said there was no coordination between the Army, Air Force, the police and the State Security Service (SSS) on the fight against the Boko Haram and wondered how they would be able to contain insurgents.
There was no official statement on the incident from either the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army or the 79 Composite Group of the Air Force.
Spokesman of the 7 Div Colonel Mohammed Dole could not be reached by phone. He did not also respond to a text message sent to him as at the time of filing this report.
Ndume, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is seen as a critic in the present dispensation. He also has a pending case at the High Court in Abuja over alleged links with the Boko Haram.

NEWS / Rival Youth Leaders Deny Knowledge Of Court Ruling Sacking Them
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:33:04 AM »
Rival youth leaders deny knowledge of court ruling sacking them

Yakubu Shendam and Abdullahi Abdulmajeed yesterday said that they were not served with any notice of hearing by the Lagos High Court that nullified their elections both as Presidents of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN).

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had nullified the election of the officers of the NYCN and ordered them to stop parading themselves as such.
Separate congresses had produced  Yakubu Shendam and Abdullahi Abdulmajeed as factional presidents of the NYCN.
Justice Okong Abang set aside the congresses which produced the officers, and directed the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, to arrest anyone who was still claiming to be the council?s president or leader.
Yakubu Shendam in an interview with Daily Trust said he was not aware of the case in the first place and was not served with any notice from the court, adding that he sent his lawyer when he heard of it in the news.
?When the court first sat, I wasn?t invited and when I heard it in the news, I told my lawyer to appear in court during the second sitting but court had already finish sitting when he arrived there,? he said.
?I still remain the authentic President of NYCN and the council?s constitution the court is referring to which was presented by the plaintiff is different from the one we are using in the youth council that I am leading,? Shendam said. 
Comrade Abdullahi Abdulmajeed, who was also mentioned in the Lagos High Court Ruling said he emerged as President of the youth council in an election which was conducted in Minna and not Makurdi that was mentioned in court.
?I have reservation about the court ruling because I was not invited or informed about any court case. Minna congress was not mentioned in the case, so I do not see reason why the court is restraining me from parading myself as President of the council,? Abdulmajeed said.

POLITICS / House Passes 75 Bills, 172 Motions In 2 Years
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:32:28 AM »
House passes 75 bills, 172 motions in 2 years

Seventy five bills and 172 motions were passed by the 7th assembly of the House of Representatives in the last two and half years, chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business Albert Sam-Tsokwa has said.

The period is from June 2011 to December, 2013.
Sam-Tsokwa said the House received a total of 660 bills within the period out of which 588 were read for the first time, while 72 are still awaiting first reading and 278 are awaiting second reading.
He said 610 bills were private members? bills, 46 were executive bills and another four were Senate bills, with 135 bills pending in the various committees; 25 bills awaiting consideration, while 18 were withdrawn.
According to him, the House also received a total of 645 motions within the two and half years out of which 275 were referred to committees; 172 were passed as resolutions; 22 were negative and 12 were withdrawn.
Similarly, Sam-Tsokwa said members of the lower chamber considered and adopted 29 reports from the public petitions committee.
Asked if the House had reached the 181 days sittings in a calendar year, Sam-Tsokwa said they have surpassed that but could not give the exact days the lawmakers sat.
He said as the House resumes plenary tomorrow, ?the House intends to pursue with vigour legislations that will touch on the well-being of Nigerians.?
He said some of the areas that the lawmakers will focus their attention on include the conclusion of the constitution amendment process, 2014 appropriation bill, Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and support, in principle, of the proposed national dialogue.

NEWS / Jere Incident: Police Disrupt Church Service To Nab Suspect
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:21:32 AM »
Jere incident: Police disrupt church service to nab suspect

Worshippers at the ECWA Church at Issah Amujegye in Kagarko LGA of Kaduna State yesterday scampered for safety when armed policemen stormed the church to arrest a suspect linked to an alleged attack on the Sarkin Jere on Jan 3, 2014.

Pastor of the Church, Rev. Ibrahim John Ejims who expressed concern over the incident, blamed the police for disrupting the service.
He said: ?The media should not turn a blind eye on what happened today (yesterday) at around 9am. I was on the altar and suddenly armed policemen stormed my congregation and disrupted our Sunday service.?
?The police came looking for one of my members in connection with an attack that happened on 3rd January, 2014. They burst into the church and caused commotion. They disrupted the worship and people fled because of the confusion. It is unfortunate that policemen behaved in this manner.?
Rev John said he had made a formal complaint to his superiors at the District Church Council (DCC) level, adding that a police officer seized by the angry worshippers was handed over to soldiers.
Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike, said he was not aware that his men disrupted a church service.
?The suspect jumped through the church?s window and the men did not in any way disrupt the congregation, instead they just retreated. I am not aware that one of our men was seized by the worshippers,? he said.

NEWS / Kogi Increases Subvention For Legionaries
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:21:02 AM »
Kogi increases subvention for legionaries

Kogi State Governor Idris Wada has increased subvention to the state chapter of the Nigeria Legion by 50 per cent.

Wada disclosed this at the weekend during the emblem launch for the 2014 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration.
The governor noted that the current security challenge facing the nation is alarming and worrisome, hence the need for stakeholders to work with government at all levels.
The governor described the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration as a unique event to honour fallen heroes who paid the supreme price to guarantee freedom, peace and liberty for Nigerians.
The governor also promised the ex-servicemen office accommodation and operational vehicles.

POLITICS / Edo PDP Backs NMA On Strike
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:18:48 AM »
Edo PDP backs NMA on strike

Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has declared support for the 21 day ultimatum given to the state government by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to address what they described as the deplorable condition of health institutions in the state or risk strike.

State Chairman of the party Chief Dan Orbih, who addressed newsmen in Benin yesterday shortly after hosting widows and others to an end of year party, commended the courage and leadership style of the state NMA chairman, Dr. Emmanuel Ighodaro.
Orbih faulted what he described as nonchalant attitude of the state government to the health needs of the people.
 ?What the NMA is saying about the deteriorating state of our health institutions has confirmed what I have been saying about our hospitals. We read in the newspapers that at the General Hospital, Agenebode, a sick patient was operated upon with a torch light. Again, the NMA said Edo State has only 150 medical doctors in its service for a population of 3.5million people, that situation is unacceptable?, he said.
Orbih added that a committee set up by the PDP to access the condition of  medical doctors in the state indicated that their grievances are credible and genuine.

NEWS / Kebbi Varsity To Start Post Graduate Programmes
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:18:00 AM »
Kebbi varsity to start post graduate programmes

The Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero (KSUSTA) will start a post graduate programmes in March this year.

Vice Chancellor of the institution Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru disclosed this during a seminar at the weekend.
?We have met all the requirements of the National University Commission (NUC) for establishing a post graduate school. Therefore, we hope to commence the programme in March, 2013, with the structures, equipment and manpower on ground,? he said.
He commended the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for providing a special intervention to the university.
?What they gave the university in terms of normal intervention this year was increased from over N300 million to N646 million. Infact, beside the high impact that we got, there were also other special interventions that we got from them,? he said.
He added that the interventions contributed towards the provision of structures and laboratory equipment needed for the programme.
?The university has state of art equipment and has trained 105 lecturers for Phd and MSC programmes abroad since its establishment in 2008. Departments of Chemistry, Biological Science and General Agriculture are among those that will commence the post graduate programmes. In Chemistry alone, we have about four professors on ground and when you have up to seven to 10 PhD holders, you can start. NUC requirement is when you graduate two set, we have graduated three sets and we have enough senior lectures to kick off,? he added.

NEWS / Police Arrest Bank Robbery Suspects
« on: January 13, 2014, 08:11:37 AM »
Police arrest bank robbery suspects

The Kogi State Police Command said at the weekend that it has arrested two of the armed robbers who attacked First Bank and Mainstreet Bank in Kabba, in Kabba/Bunu Local Government Area of the state. It was gathered that five people were killed during the incident which occurred on Friday.

Addressing journalists, the state Police Commissioner Saidu Madawaki said the suspects, identified as Rasaki Bello and Bayo Femi, are assisting the police in their investigation. 
Madawaki, who also confirmed the death of a police Constable, Mr Tanko Paul, during the incident, said the police put up stiff resistance against the robbers.
Daily Trust gathered that gunmen in large numbers attacked the banks simultaneously using Improvised Explosive Device and other items.
Madawaki added that due to the efforts of his men, the robbers were unable to cart away money from First Bank, though they did take away money from Mainstreet Bank.
He further stated that said during the gun battle, two robbers, a police officer and two civilians were killed.

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